Everything on the web is getting more personalized these days, it seems. Take Yahoo’s new C.O.R.E. system as one of the latest examples.
Another example would be a new system Groupon is reportedly testing, which would give users more control over the types of deals they receive. According to Bloomberg, which interviewed CEO Andrew Mason, some users are already seeing the new system in action. It lets users “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” deals that Groupon shows them, so that Groupon can learn more about the person’s preferences, and serve them more relevant deals.
This is really the kind of thing we’re seeing from more and more web-based services – personalized recommendations. Think Pandora. You thumb up the tracks you like, and thumb down the ones you don’t, so that the service can deliver you a more relevant and enjoyable experience moving forward. It makes a great deal of sense.
However, this kind of personalization also presents the “filter bubble” issue, which basically boils down to the fact that we’re shutting ourselves off from things that are outside of our comfort zone, and we’re trusting algorithms to abide by our actual tastes. How do you know, for example, that a song you gave a thumbs down on Pandora didn’t lead to Pandora keeping your from hearing another song that you would have really liked, just because some part of its algorithm associated that song with the song you didn’t like? This can be an even bigger issue when you start thinking about news and information. News sites and social media services also engage in this kind of content delivery.
With a deals service like Groupon, however, there is not a lot of apparent risk. At worst, you will miss out on a deal that you may have taken advantage of. At least you’ll probably never know you missed it. This could be a small price to pay for having more deals come your way that actually are relevant to you (assuming Groupon’s algrorithm does its job right).
Either way, Groupon’s new system simply highlights the fact that we are increasingly finding ourselves in a more personalized world. For better or for worse.
This isn’t the first foray into personalization, we’ve seen from Groupon, of course. Just a few months ago, they launched a new type of personalization deal with its Deal Types and Places offering.